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This story was created and shared by Optometry Victoria South Australia (OV/SA).

Working in regional and rural areas can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but can also come with steep learning curves. OV/SA recognises these challenges and implemented a peer mentoring program aiming to address them back in 2019.

The ECOV/SA peer mentor program was borne from the concept that it is often your peers that not only can offer you the best support but also have the best insight into the local community. Having a peer support network that you can go to for professional and other issues can hopefully make the transition from graduation to full time work for early career optometrists working in regional and rural locations a little bit smoother.

Every year, OV/SA holds the meetings in different locations as identified by the ECOV/SA committee, and previous locations include Clare, Mildura, Wangaratta and Ballarat. Meetings are held at a popular local venue at a date and time to be determined by the facilitator, and meals, refreshments and venue booking hire (if required) are covered by Optometry Victoria South Australia.

The program aims to particularly benefit those moving to new locations where they do not have an established peer or social group to help them adjust to their new community and role.

This year, peer mentoring sessions will be hosted in Mt Gambier on 31 May, Port Lincoln on 25 June, and Warrnambool on 19 September. Registrations for the 2023 sessions are now open:

Peer support programs are run either by a friendly local ECOV/SA committee member or an individual identified by the committee or Secretariat as a suitable facilitator. If you’re an early career optometrist looking for advice, assistance, or even just someone in optometry to talk to, come along to one of our sessions this year.

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In the spirit of reconciliation Optometry Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.